Date Written


Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Dr. Noam Shpancer

First Committee Member

Dr. Michele Acker

Second Committee Member

Dr. Meredith Frey


Virtual identity, Social identity, Group dynamics, Personality

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


As individuals find more of their social identity defined in the virtual sphere, it is important to understand the functions and structures of virtual communities. Yet, a comprehensive comparison between virtual groups and traditional groups has yet to be conducted. This study investigated structural and functional differences and similarities between virtual and traditional communities. Participants (N = 63) in four groups (traditional social/virtual social and traditional professional/virtual professional) were compared on measures of function (as defined by their self-definition and self-investment) and structure (as defined by their personality traits). Three hypotheses were tested: 1. Virtual and traditional groups would not differ significantly in function. 2. Virtual and traditional groups would differ significantly in structure. 3. Professional communities will display higher levels of social identity in both virtual and traditional comparisons. Results are presented and discussed.



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